SUN Hockey Pool

Would Burke two-time Leafs?

LANCE HORNBY -- SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 11:58 AM ET

Brian Burke has the Irish blarney, but is there any of the Tommy Gorman to back it up?

The Maple Leafs better hope so. Larry Tanenbaum and Richard Peddie made a big deal of saying their next general manager must have a Stanley Cup to his credit, yet the fine silver print on the Cup shows no one with the GM’s title in more than 60 years has repeated with a different team. (You can argue that Scotty Bowman’s personnel decisions influenced many Cups in Montreal, Detroit and Pittsburgh, but he never had GM beside his name except in St. Louis and Buffalo, the latter the only year he ever missed the playoffs).

To find the last time it happened go back to Gorman, who did it with four clubs, the 1923 Ottawa Senators, '34 Chicago Blackhawks, ‘35 Montreal Maroons and the '46 Canadiens. The only other GM in league history to do it was Lester Patrick with the Victoria Cougars in 1925 and again with the Rangers in '28.

Point being, the Cup ring shouldn’t be the sole determining factor. The lively debate on just what influence Burke had in putting the 2006 Anaheim Ducks over the top is a prime example. No question Bryan Murray's moves set the table, the same way Conn Smythe put together the nucleus of the champion '28 Rangers before being let go on the eve of the season and eventually finding his fame with the Leafs. Even if Burke does come and the Leafs win the Cup within five years, the fingerprints of others will likely be on the mug, everyone from from Cliff Fletcher to John Ferguson.

BRAVE MULLER WON'T GIVE UP

A story of courage and determination from Germany, where national team goalie Robert Muller is trying to keep playing despite an incurable fourth-degree brain tumor.

He was first diagnosed exactly two years ago after suffering headaches and seizures. Most of the tumor was removed and the 28-year-old was able to resume play, though he had to leave his Adler Mannheim club and work his way back with cellar dwelling Fucshe Duisburg.

He eventually landed with the Cologne-based team Haie, where he delighted in beating Adler in a 5-4 marathon playoff that went 168:16, just eight minutes shy of the NHL record. He had a .935 playoff save percentage and came to Quebec City to represent his country at the last world championships, where his three games' work included a 4-2 win over Slovakia.

It was eventually discovered he has Glioblastoma multiforme, which strikes in two or three cases per 100,000 people. It returned in August, as big as a baby’s fist according to reports, and the combined efforts of a second surgery, 16 chemotherapy sessions and other treatments have not improved his chances of survival.

"I never liked to talk about my feelings and it can't change the diagnosis," Muller told Der Spiegel.

Muller, who is married with a five-year-old daughter and year-old son. has tried to maximize his precious time with them. His doctor says he has already out-lived most people with his condition, but says Muller has only persisted with asking when he could play again.

After his latest surgery, he began practising in October, was scheduled to be a back-up in a game this past weekend and hopes to start one sometime this month. Haie is giving him every break, telling Canadian back-up Frank Doyle that he will only be extended a temporary contract until Muller is No. 1 again.

"It's a guy someone should write a book about," teammate Andreas Renz told Bild Magazine. "He's an unbelievable guy who re-assures everyone despite his own suffering. He never let you feel how serious his illness is, just to not burden anyone with it."

Cancer recently claimed the life of Hamilton-born Jim Koleff, one of the first Canadians to make it big in the IIHF as a player and a coach in Switzerland. He had fought the disease since 1992. Swiss national team players were among the thousands who went to Lausanne’s arena for a memorial service and threw hundreds of roses on the ice in tribute.

AROUND THE LEAGUE

Part of Mike Comrie's early-season struggles with the Islanders can be traced to him not being fully recovered from off-season hip surgery...The San Jose Sharks invited players' fathers along for last night's 6-5 road win, a better result than the last bonding trip two years ago when they were waxed 8-0. Angry GM Doug Wilson blasted the players post game on the bus by the tarmac, but had the decency to let the dads board the plane first...Denis Savard couldn't stay mad at the Blackhawks for long. The fired coach has accepted Chicago's offer to join Bobby Hull, Tony Esposito and Stan Mikita as a team ambassador...The Bruins were relieved to end a record 12-game regular season losing streak to the Canadiens on Thursday, capped by Milan Lukic's demolition of Mike Komisarek in a third-period fight. But it was Lucic who headed right for the clinic to check on any damage to his right hand, which had seven knuckles scraped or bleeding from pummeling the Hab in both the head and helmet. "There's so many broken bones in there from before, they can't really tell," said Lucic, who was cleared to play...Shane Doan of the Coyotes plays his 900th game for the franchise on Tuesday against Chicago, still looking for his first NHL hat trick. He has 28 two-goal games including three this year with an empty net attempt for the trick hitting the crossbar...The Habs will be retiring Patrick Roy's No. 33 on Saturday. It was 20 years ago this week the Hawks held a double ceremony for their two greatest goalies, sending Glenn Hall's No. 1 and Tony Esposito's 35 to the rafters at Chicago Stadium...Fabian Brunnstrom has gone from healthy scratch to hat trick back to barely playing for Dallas...The Colorado Avalanche named its new Cleveland farm team the Lake Erie Monters, a nod to the legendary Loch Ness type serpent that has been 'sighted' on both sides of the Canada - U.S. border...Patrik Stefan, the only player drafted higher than the Sedin Twins, first overall in 1999, has retired from the Swiss League after chronic injuries. Stefan had 188 points in seven years with Atlanta and Dallas...In case you wondered what KHL teams are playing for, it's the Yuri Gagarin Cup. Gagarin became the first man in space on April 12, 1961. He died in a 1968 test flight and is buried in the walls of the Kremlin. The KHL's four divisions are named after Russian hockey legends Wsewolod Bobrov, Anatoli Tarasov, Valeri Kharlamov and Arkadi Chernyshev.

LOOSE LEAFS

MLSEL chairman Larry Tanenbaum and president Richard Peddie were huddling at the ACC after yesterday's Raptors-Miami game, with Brian Burke the likely topic... A true test of character for the Leafs this week, three home games and three off days, all filled with rampant Burke speculation...Wendel Clark's No. 17 jersey gets honoured this Saturday. Unlike the mistake the Leafs made with Darryl Sittler's legacy, no one has worn 17 in the years Clark played elsewhere or after he retired...Doug Gilmour's 93 goes up later this season and will franchise leading scorer Mats Sundin's next appearance at the ACC be the ceremony for his No. 13?...In a 10-5 loss played 89 years ago Wednesday, John McKinnon and Hib Milks of the Pittsburgh Pirates became the first to score hat tricks in the same game against the Leafs, while Hap Day set the Leaf road record of four goals by a defenceman.

EX-LEAF OF THE WEEK

Checking winger Clarke Wilm, who had has a goal and eight assists in 70 games for the Pat Quinn Leafs, has 16 points in 16 games this year for the Hamburg Freezers in Germany.


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